Triage accuracy and causes of mistriage using the Korean Triage and Acuity Scale
To identify emergency department triage accuracy using the Korean Triage and Acuity Scale (KTAS) and evaluate the causes of mistriage.
This cross-sectional retrospective study was based on 1267 systematically selected records of adult patients admitted to two emergency departments between October 2016 and September 2017. Twenty-four variables were assessed, including chief complaints, vital signs according to the initial nursing records, and clinical outcomes. Three triage experts, a certified emergency nurse, a KTAS provider and instructor, and a nurse recommended based on excellent emergency department experience and competence determined the true KTAS. Triage accuracy was evaluated by inter-rater agreement between the expert and emergency nurse KTAS scores. The comments of the experts were analyzed to evaluate the cause of triage error. An independent sample t-test was conducted to compare the number of patient visits per hour in terms of the accuracy and inaccuracy of triage.
Inter-rater reliability between the emergency nurse and the true KTAS score was weighted kappa = .83 and Pearson’s r = .88 (p < .001). Of 1267 records, 186 (14.7%) showed some disagreement (under triage = 131, over triage = 55). Causes of mistriage included: error applying the numerical rating scale (n = 64) and misjudgment of the physical symptoms associated with the chief complaint (n = 47). There was no statistically significant difference in the number of patient visits per hour for accurate and inaccurate triage (t = -0.77, p = .442).
There was highly agreement between the KTAS scores determined by emergency nurses and those determined by experts. The main cause of mistriage was misapplication of the pain scale to the KTAS algorithm.